The National Basketball Players Association intends to file a grievance disputing the NBA’s $100,000 fine for James Harden over public comments he made earlier this month expressing displeasure after the Philadelphia 76ers failed to trade him.
“We respectfully disagree with the league’s decision to discipline James Harden for recent comments he made, which we believe do not violate the rule against public trade demands,” the NBPA said in a statement Tuesday night announcing the decision. “We intend to file a grievance and have the matter heard by our Arbitrator.”
Earlier Tuesday, the league announced its decision to fine Harden in the wake of an investigation into comments he made on a promotional tour in China on Aug. 14 and in an interview with Houston television station KHOU on Aug. 17. Harden was fined the maximum amount under the new collective bargaining agreement, which went into effect last month.
In its statement, the NBA said Harden was “indicating that he would not perform the services called for under his player contract unless traded to another team.”
Last month, after conducting another investigation into public and private posturing by Aaron Goodwin, the agent for Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard, the NBA said in a memo sent to all 30 teams that any player, or his agent, who makes public or private comments indicating he won’t “fully perform the services called for under his player contract in the event of a trade” will be subject to discipline moving forward.
During his appearance in China, Harden called out 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey for not trading him after Harden opted into his $35.6 million contract for the 2023-24 season.
“Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of,” Harden said during an Adidas media event in China. “Let me say that again: Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.”
Then, after returning to the United States, Harden had an interview with KHOU in which he was asked if the relationship with Philadelphia was “beyond repair.”
“I think so,” Harden said.
“I’ve been patient all summer,” he continued. “For me, it’s just focus on what I can control and getting ready for this season.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Aug. 13 that Philadelphia had informed Harden it hadn’t found a suitable trade with Harden’s preferred destination, the LA Clippers, and that he was expected to report to the team’s training camp beginning Oct. 2 — something Harden plans to do, according to sources.
Despite public speculation, Harden has made no allegations of a previous handshake agreement with the Sixers on a future contract. Harden, who turns 34 this month, exercised his option for next season with an expectation Morey would work with him on finding a trade to the Clippers, sources said. Over the next several weeks, the two teams engaged in numerous conversations but never gained traction on a deal, sources said.
Outside of the drama surrounding Harden’s future, Philadelphia has had a quiet offseason. The 76ers lost Georges Niang and Shake Milton to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves, respectively, in free agency, while signing Patrick Beverley and Mo Bamba to one-year deals. They also re-signed big men Paul Reed and Montrezl Harrell, in addition to replacing Doc Rivers as head coach with former Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse.